There was once a wrestler called Vijay Singh - a tall man with broad shoulders and muscular arms. Vijay Singh, people said, was a born wrestler and could beat all other wrestlers in the world.
This pahalwan had one weakness, boasting, which often got him into uncomfortable situations. One day, he was sitting in the marketplace and drinking glasses of milk, surrounded by several young men. He suddenly expressed a wish to meet a strong giant and teach him a lesson.
"If you walk alone at night through the Troubled Desert, you are sure to meet giants," one of his admirers said. “Travellers have been robbed and killed. Would you really want to go there?" Vijay Singh wondered why he had to boast. "Yes, I have heard of the Troubled Desert," he said. "I think it's just a fairy tale."
"Oh no!" said one of his admirers. "It's true. This place is ten miles to the west, on the road to Jaisalmer. The landmark is an ugly, black rock that looks like the head of a camel. Beyond that there is nothing but sand and giants."
Almost the whole village went that evening to see Vijay Singh off. An old woman came forward and put a small packet in his hands, and Vijay Singh started walking into the red sunset of the desert.
A few miles before he could reach, he remembered the strange old woman's packet. He found nothing but a lump of salt and an egg.
As Vijay Singh stepped into the Troubled Desert, he heard a voice calling him and telling him that he was his friend Natwar. At once, Vijay Singh realised it was a giant. He called back, “Where are you, my dear Natwar? It's dark and I cannot see you. Come here and show me the way." Like all good wrestlers, Vijay Singh wanted to size up his enemy.
Soon the giant appeared at his side. Vijay Singh looked into his face and
declared, "You are just a plain, lying giant. Anyway, now I don't have to
walk all night. I was wanting to meet you." The giant was surprised. Here
was this creature claiming he wanted to meet a giant.
"Really, I don't know why you wanted to meet me!" the giant said.
"That proves," said Vijay Singh in a bored voice, "that you are a stupid
giant. The least a giant can do is to read a man's thoughts. However, a
useless giant like you is better than no giant. I am tired of wrestling with
men. I want to fight a giant."
The giant was speechless. He tried to look Vijay Singh in the eye. "Really!" he said. "You don't appear all that strong to me."
"Appearances can be misleading," Vijay Singh said. "Take your own case. You claim to be Natwar, though actually you are a weak giant. If you doubt my strength, let me display it to you."
Vijay Singh picked up a piece of rock from the sand and offered it to the giant. "Take this and squeeze it hard," he said. “It is filled with liquid. See if I am wrong." While the giant tried to squeeze the rock, first with one hand, then with both, Vijay Singh quietly took out the egg from his pocket.
He grabbed the rock from the giant and placed it between both hands and squeezed. At once, yellow yolk oozed from around his fingers and the crackling of the egg-shell created the impression of the rock being crushed. The giant
was so surprised that he did not see Vijay Singh cleaning his hands with sand nor throwing away the tell-tale shell. Vijay Singh picked up another piece of rock and gave it to the giant. Silently, the giant took it, felt it and stared at it. Vijay Singh put his hand into his pocket to take out the lump of salt.
The giant protested that it was only a stone and that it was too dark to see.
"Never heard of a giant who can't see in the dark!" remarked Vijay Singh. "That stone which you hold in your hand contains salt. Crumble it!" Again, the
giant tried unsuccessfully to crush the stone. Doubting his powers, he handed over the stone to Vijay Singh.
"What's the use of wrestling with a weakling whom
I can floor in a minute?" So saying, Vijay Singh
effortlessly crumbled the lump of salt and let the
stone drop in the darkness. He held out his
hand and commanded the giant to taste the
Completely believing in the pahalwan's extraordinary strength, the giant did as he was told. This man could easily defeat him in a wrestling bout in the dark, but possibly he could be tricked in other ways. Humbly, the giant requested Vijay Singh to rest for the night at his house and leave the next day.
Now overjoyed, Vijay Singh replied, "I cannot refuse your kindness, but
tomorrow you will go with me as my prisoner. I must display the trophy of
my victory to my people!" The giant bowed in agreement, but silently
vowed to kill Vijay Singh in the night. He led him to his house in the cave.
The giant fed him with dry fruit and a lot of milk, and later led him to a very
comfortable bed to sleep on, complete with pillows and bolsters.
But Vijay Singh lay awake, listening to the snores of the giant. In the
middle of the night, he slipped out of his bed. He placed a bolster in the centre of the bed, throwing a blanket over it to make it look exactly like a sleeping man. Having done this, he sat quietly, watching in a dark corner.
Just before dawn, the giant came towards the bed,
armed with a lathi. He brought the lathi down on what
he thought was Vijay Singh's head. Not hearing even
a cry, he was pleased that he had killed his enemy.
To make doubly sure, he struck the bolster six times
more. Satisfied, he returned to his sofa and covering
his head, went back to sleep. Vijay Singh too climbed
back silently into bed. After some time, he groaned as
if sickened, threw back his coverlet and sat up.
Disturbed by the noise, the giant peeped and was
shocked to see the strong man stretching and
yawning. “Friend giant, there are insects in your
cave," said Vijay Singh. “The sweetest sleep I've had
in years - and there comes this
insect to trouble me! I distinctly
counted seven flappings of its
wings." The giant was frightened.
Those seven blows would
have reduced any other man
to paste. “There is no safety near a horrible wrestler like this!" he thought,
and ran away from the cave, leaving behind all his stolen wealth.
It took several camels from the village to move the property Vijay Singh
had got. He returned much of it to the rightful owners. He went especially
to the old woman, thanked her for her invaluable gift, and asked for her
granddaughter's hand in marriage.
From then on, Vijay Singh was more careful about boasting. It is said that
no traveller was ever troubled in the desert again.
Adapted from the abridged Rajasthani folktale by Indira David